Manx English 2016: Research into Influences on Manx-English from Across the Water


Before the 17th Century, little is known about the English spoken on the Isle of Man. Indeed, “few spoke the English tongue” when Chaloner visited in 1656 and experts are unsure as to what type of English was spoken here at that time.  Post 17th Century however, the Anglican clergy spread English through education and English smugglers spread the language through trade.  Throughout the 18th and 19th Century, English spoken on the Island grew and Manx and English lived side by side. It is likely that it is at this time that a Manx accent and dialect of English would have developed.

Since this time, Manx English has been exalted through distinguished poetry (namely through the much loved T.E.Brown) but also seems to be succumbing to levelling influences from across the water.  My interest lies in phonology and this project focusses on the accent of Manx English, I will look at the sounds which are distinctive and I will try to determine where these are from.

The project is about listening to and understanding the Manx accent today.  From the ‘Recording Mann’ project in 2002 (Led by Andrew Hamer), I will be able to compare the accent then with the accent in 2016.  Going back even further, the Isle of Man was included in the Survey of English Dialects and recordings and phonetic transcriptions are available from 1962-1963.  This again is a great comparison point for the Manx accent spoken today.

The Isle of Man has a wonderful and unique accent of English.  It has been influenced by neighbouring places and also by Celtic and Norse ancestry.  As an island, it has a clear boundary (the Irish Sea), therefore it is interesting to see if the water is in fact acting as a barrier to external accents coming over and influencing Manx English.

If anyone is interested in my project please read my website

If anyone would like to get in touch to share any comments don’t hesitate to contact me further.

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Manx Y-DNA Study Update

Blein Vie Noa

I have just completed a review of what has been achieved and learned in the study during the course of the last five years.

Key headline findings from the study so far are:-

  • In the period immediately after the Scandinavian occupation of the Isle of Man (800-1265AD) a quarter of the male population were of Scandinavian or North European origin.
  • Unexpectedly, a number of male Manx lines with different family names were found to be related and share common male ancestors in the period before hereditary family name adoption.
  • The unique Y-DNA signatures of more than 70 (out of 125) Manx family lines have been identified and knowledge about their early origins gained.
  • Kelly from the Isle of Man is really so! All those familiar family names (e.g. Curphey, Bridson, Kennaugh etc) which we consider to be typical of and unique to the Isle of Man are shown to be indeed so.
  • Different variants of the same original Manx family name, which are popularly assumed to be equivalent, e.g. Callister and Collister, etc are indeed the same family.
  • Most Manx families show a single male genetic origin, as would be expected of such small families, but with several exceptions.
  • Every one in eight men tested in the study did not show the genetic profile associated with the rest of his family.
  • The names of some early Manx emigrants changed/evolved after they left the Island in the 1700-1800s.
  • The close-relatedness of the Manx community genetically is a notable feature of the Isle of Man, as might be expected. Y-DNA testing indicates that a number of male lines are connected from early times. However autosomal DNA testing provides further anecdotal evidence of this characteristic amongst a small population of people with Manx ancestry.

A full copy of the report can be seen online here